To Wales, without a mountain a climb

Southern Snowdonia
Southern Snowdonia
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Aasma Day takes her family to Gogarth Hall Farm for a short break with the emphasis on sightseeing and fun – not hiking up peaks

Mention Wales and Snowdonia to me and my mind immediately conjures up images of hills, mountains and plenty of sheep.

Southern Snowdonia

Southern Snowdonia

Not being the type of person whose idea of a short break is a massive hike up a mountain, I had never been to the Snowdonia area before, thinking it was a destination reserved for more adventurous types.

I’m far more used to traipsing around the Lake District where you can combine scenic walks with pottering around pretty villages and enjoying great pub food and I wrongly presumed that all there was to do in Wales was climb up hills and mountains.

I was pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong when our family of four headed to Southern Snowdonia for a couple of days for a glimpse of what the area has to offer to families looking for a pleasant break.

Southern Snowdonia is the Meirionnydd region around Bala, Dolgellau and Barmoth and we stayed at Gogarth Hall Farm which is situated within the Snowdonia National Park in a peaceful part of Mid Wales with stunning views of the River Dyfi and the Cambrian Mountains.

Southern Snowdonia

Southern Snowdonia

Not usually being a fan of bed and breakfasts as I can never quite shake off the feeling that I am staying in someone’s home and need to be on my best behaviour, I enjoyed staying at the friendly and welcoming four-star Gogarth Hall Farm where we were given a key so we could come and go as we pleased.

My husband and I and our twins stayed in the family room which had a double bed, two singles and an en suite which was ideal for our needs.

A hearty traditional Welsh breakfast was served in the dining room on both mornings and our welcoming host Deilwen even taught us and our children a few words of Welsh.

Gogarth Hall was certainly a great base to explore the area from and at this time of the year, with the weather being cold and bleak, we looked for family-friendly activities that could be experienced all year round.

When you’ve got a pair of children in tow, you can never go wrong with an outing on a steam train.

We headed to Talyllyn Railway at Tywyn which is famed for being the railway that the author of the Thomas The Tank Engine books, the Rev W Awdry, volunteered at.

The Talylln Railway is an historic narrow gauge steam railway set in the picturesque Mid-Wales countryside. Running from Tywyn to Abergynolwyn and Nant Gwernol, where there are excellent forest walks, the line passes the delightful Dolgoch Falls.

For a family day out with a difference, we went to Llechwedd Slate Caverns near the historic slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.

This gave us the chance to travel deep into the mine into the past during the underground tour as guides took us through the huge caverns to experience the life of a Victorian family at work.

As well as taking a ride on the steepest cable railway in Britain, which transported us hundreds of feet underground, our tour of the mines featured a demonstration of the ancient skill of slate splitting.

On a cold and wet day, Wales can be just as miserable as the rest of the UK so when it comes to family fun, indoor activities suddenly become high on the agenda.

Trips to the cinema are a typical option on such days, but our visit to The Magic Lantern Cinema in Tywyn was a cinema trip with a twist as instead of the usual chain, it is a fabulous old-style privately run cinema.

But although it dates back a century, it boasts some of the best cinema equipment around, making it an experience for adults and children alike.

Corris Craft Centre in Mid Wales is worth a family stop as it features individual shops bursting with creativity where you can meet the designers and buy their handmade items.

We paid a visit to Chocablock, the newest shop at the centre, where you can buy delicious handmade chocolates and take part in a workshop where you can make your own unique chocolate bar and design and decorate it with your choice of sweets.

Even though we visited Southern Snowdonia at a quiet time of year when the weather wasn’t great, we found interesting things to do and see.

Next time, we vowed to go during better weather so we can experience more of the outdoor activities in the area.